Board of Directors
Carroll Wilkerson, Chairman of the Board
Carroll Wilkerson is a partner with Wilkerson & Reynolds Wealth Management and a Financial Advisor with Waddell & Reed, Inc. He has been a financial advisor for the past 28 years. Mr. Wilkerson received a bachelor’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from the University of Missouri in Columbia in May of 1984. Upon graduation he worked for the Department of Conservation at the Fountain Grove Conservation Area. He began his career with Waddell & Reed in August of 1985 in Kansas City. In 1987, he moved to Columbia and established and managed the Waddell & Reed office. Since then Mr. Wilkerson has held various positions with Waddell & Reed including Financial Advisor, District Manager and Division Manager. He received the Certified Financial Planner™ certification in November 1993. Mr. Wilkerson has always had a passion for the outdoors. He is an avid hunter, especially of white tail deer. Some of his most enjoyable days are spent in northeast Missouri on the family farm observing and hunting deer. He has been very active in the past with Boys Scouts of America and served as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 6 in Columbia. He assisted and watched his three of sons obtain the rank of Eagle Scout. He is an active supporter of Ducks Unlimited. He and his business partner have been the main sponsor of the Women for Wetlands program in Columbia for several years. He is also a member of the NRA and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. He and his wife Judy have been married 25 years and have 5 children: Ryan, Eric, Adam, Kelly and Ashley.
Dave Erickson, President
Dave Erickson of Columbia earned a Master’s degree in wildlife management from Pennsylvania State University in 1977. In 2009, he retired after 33 years with the Department of Conservation. His first job with the Department of Conservation was as a wildlife research biologist working with furbearing mammals. Dave worked as a researcher for seven years, and as a research supervisor for two years. He also worked in a variety of other capacities for the Department, including as a special programs supervisor, an assistant chief of Wildlife Division, the first administrator of the Department’s Administrative Services Division under Director Jerry Conley, as Wildlife Division chief under John Hoskins, and finally as an assistant director where he oversaw the Department’s resource division operations. In 2009, Dave was honored with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ highest award, the Seth Gordon Award. He also received the E. Sydney Stephens Professional Wildlife Award from the Missouri chapter of The Wildlife Society in 2006 and the G. Andy Runge Award from the same organization in 2006.
Jim Carson, Vice-President
Jim Carson graduated from the University of Missouri School of Businesss in 1969 then spent two years in the Army with a tour in Vietnam. Upon return from Vietnam Jim started to work in the family construction business and continues to work as the company transitions into it’s third generation. Jim and his wife Ginny have lived on the family farm in Lawrence County for many years where Jim has, with the help of the Missouri Department of Conservation and various incentive programs such as EQIP and WHIP, transformed the 400+ acres into a farm where wildlife and commercial farming and cattle raising not only coexist but where they benefit each other. Jim has been an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, backpacking, hiking and anything else outdoors since he was a child roaming these southern Missouri hills. His love of conservation and wildlife management continues to this day.
Ken Babcock, Secretary
Ken Babcock of Jamestown worked for MDC from 1970 through 1997. He worked as a waterfowl research biologist, Assistant Chief and Division Chief of Wildlife Division, and Assistant Director from 1989-1997. After retiring from MDC, Ken went to work for Ducks Unlimited until recently retiring and moving back to Missouri. Ken readily said “yes” when asked if he would serve on the MCHF Board. He is a member of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Midwest and Southeast Associations of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Mississippi Flyway Council and Technical Section, The Wildlife Society and the Corps of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board.
Bruce Sassmann, Treasurer
Bruce Sassmann and his wife Jan have restored the 120 acre Osage County Prairie Star Restoration Farm. Their efforts and energies since 2009 have earned them the MDC Private Land Services partnership award, the Missouri Quail Forever Aldo Leopold Award, the Missouri Wildlife Society G Andy Runge Award, and the Conservation Federation Wildlife Conservationist Award. They welcome a variety of individuals and groups to interact with the restored landscape. Bruce is retired from a century old family business. He has been active on the city council of his community and continues to be part of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission. His undergraduate degrees are biology and chemistry. He and his wife are life members of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and Quail Forever.
Denise Brown serves as the Executive Director for the Missouri Lawyer Trust Account Foundation. From June 2001 through April 2008, Ms. Brown served as General Counsel and Assistant Director overseeing policy development, outreach programs and capital improvements statewide for the Missouri Department of Conservation. She also served as primary negotiator for federal hydropower licensure proceedings. She served as staff attorney for the Missouri General Assembly from January 1997 through June 2001. Ms. Brown graduated from Drury University with a B.A. in Business Communications in 1987 and from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1991.
Jeannie Chambers grew up on a fifth generation farm in northeast Missouri. She received a BS in Nursing from Truman State University and a Master’s in Nursing from SUNY at Buffalo, New York. She taught nursing at Truman State and University of Missouri, Columbia. She began her nursing career as an instructor in child health and spent 23 years in private practice at JCMG, Jefferson City, practicing adult oncology. She is a landowner and continues to be active in the family cattle operation in northeast Missouri. She enjoys hunting and fishing and is a Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited and a member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. She co-founded Columbia’s Ducks Unlimited Greenwing Youth Program in 2003 and continues to serve as co-chair of the committee. For thirteen years she and her husband Glenn partnered to educate children and adults about the Missouri Department of Conservation’s river otter restoration program in Missouri.
Rick Holton, Sr.
Rick Holton, Sr. was born in Saint Louis and, as a child, spent time on his grandparents’ farm in St. Clair playing in nearby streams. This experience initiated his passion for conservation and clean rivers. He graduated from Saint Louis University in 1970 and served as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserve. From 1971 to 2011 Mr. Holton worked in the financial services industry and, since 2011, has served as Chairman of the Board for Holton Capital Group (HCG), a St. Louis-based, family company that invests in early stage technology and life science companies, as well as later stage private equity buyouts and real estate. In addition to previous service as a member of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, Mr. Holton has served on the board of American Rivers, D.C. and Boys Town of Missouri. He also co-founded the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance, founded the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance and served as committee chair for Ladue Creeks. He recently worked with Ducks Unlimited to establish a perpetual conservation easement on his family farm – Over and Under – which borders the Mississippi River in Saint Charles County.
Don Johnson of Festus served as a member of the Conservation Commission from 2007 – 2013. He was president of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) from 2006 until his appointment to the Conservation Commission. He is active in the National Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Rifle Association and Ducks Unlimited. Mr. Johnson is Vice President of Human Resources at Suddenlink Communications in St. Louis. He was recently honored by Budweiser and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as one of the four finalists for the 2012 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year.
Dr. Wayne Morton
Dr. Wayne Morton was born in southeast Nebraska and raised on a farm. He attended Lewistown High School in Nebraska. He attended University of Nebraska from 1964-1968. In 1972, he graduated from the University of Nebraska Medicine School. He became board certified in Family Medicine in 1975 and has practiced family medicine in Osceola, Missouri from 1975 to present. He has served as President of local medical staff and has served as President of the West Central Medical Society. He has been a member of the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) Board of Directors for over 10 years. Dr. Morton has served as President and Vice President of the MPF. He is a member of the North American Grouse Partnership, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Missouri Conservation Federation, Native Plant Society, Garden Club, State Tech Committee, Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI) and is currently President of the MoBCI Foundation. He has also served two terms on the State Park Advisory Board. Dr. Morton lives on a cattle farm, owns a prairie by Cole Camp, Missouri and leases a 620-acre prairie by Taberville, MO. He has been restoring a savannah glade complex on his land in Osceola and has completed over 150 acres of restoration thus far.
David Reynolds received a BS degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Industrial Safety from University of Central Missouri (formerly Central Missouri State University) in Warrensburg, MO. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP). He has worked with universities setting up and running two safety degree departments and managed the safety program at City Utilities of Springfield. David and his wife Janice have been married 42 years and have two daughters and one grandson. Mr. Reynolds has been involved in several short term mission trips, building 15 churches throughout the world, including Brazil and Kenya, Africa. Mr. Reynolds has formerly served seven years on the MCHF Board, including one term as President of the Board. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Ozark Regional Land Trust, campaigned for a tax on soft drinks for funding of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), served on the James River Watershed Committee, and spearheaded the effort and raised $150,000 to purchase 391 acres at Cedar Gap, Missouri, which was donated to MDC in the late 1990s. Mr. Reynolds has completed the Master Naturalist program and is a certified Master Naturalist through MDC and the University Extension Service. Dave and his wife Janice are also lifetime members of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
J. Miles Sweeney
Miles Sweeney of Springfield practiced law from 1972 until 1984, when he was appointed Associate Circuit Judge by Governor Kit Bond. He was subsequently elected without opposition. In 1990, he was appointed Circuit Judge by Governor Ashcroft and has since been elected without opposition. He served 9 years as Presiding Judge of Greene County and was on the Presiding Judges Executive Committee. Miles is an ardent outdoorsman and an avid hunter and fisherman. He is excited to serve on the MCHF Board, saying of all his community service activities this is the very kind of organization and cause he prefers.
David Murphy, Ex-Officio
David Murphy is a native of Lewis County who has spent much time hunting, fishing and farming with his family in northeast Missouri. In 2013, he retired as executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and prior to that was regional director and field supervisor for the National Wild Turkey Federation. In 2009, Outdoor Life named him as one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Future of Hunting and Fishing.
David graduated from Canton R-V High School and earned both his master of science degree in wildlife management and his bachelor of science degree in forest, fisheries and wildlife from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He currently owns and operates a farm in Clark County which provides ample opportunities to mentor and share hunting experiences with friends and family.
Sara Parker Pauley serves as the ninth Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation since its formation in 1937. The Missouri Conservation Commission announced Pauley’s selection effective November 1, 2016.
A native of Columbia, Pauley received both her law degree and bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and did post-graduate studies in Australia as a Rotary Fellow. She previously served as Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources since 2010. She has worked as project manager for D.J. Case & Associates, a natural resources communications firm, and as a deputy director for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. She has been an instructor at the University of Missouri’s School of Natural Resources, teaching a course in natural resource policy and administration.
Pauley began her professional career as a Policy Analyst with the Missouri Department of Conservation from 1993-1996. Over the years, though her career path varied, it has never strayed far from her personal desire to be engaged in the stewardship of Missouri’s natural resources.